PETA is ridiculous 12

Mark Maynard has a good post this morning that is mostly about vandalizing SUV’s. For years I have fought back the urge to deface all those pristine Explorers, Hummers and especially Cayannes (Ferdinand Porsche must be rolling over in his grave ever since this one came to be. Porsche management should be ashamed of themselves). Fortunately I think all we really need to do is wait a bit for gas prices to climb to $4-5/gallon. At that point natural selection will take its course and most of the suv’s will just get parked. But my main point here is with regard to the last paragraph of Mark’s post:

While we’re on the subject of, “Just how far is too far?”, what do you think about Peta’s new, “Your Daddy Kills Animals” campaign? Would you be pissed if you kid came home crying, with one of these comics tucked under her arm, asking why you delight in the murder of innocent little animals?

For many years I think PETAs tactics have just been stupid and most of the celebrities they have advertising for them are just dilettantes looking for attention. I don’t hunt, but that is not because I don’t believe in it. I just don’t feel like it. I have no problem with hunting or fishing. I do think that there need to be rules to prevent over hunting and fishing so that we preserve the population for the future but that is just common sense. We also need some safety regulations for hunting, like where you can and can’t hunt and making sure that hunters know how to properly use a firearm or bow or whateever. Where PETA could actually do something useful but doesn’t is the case of industrial farming. Any potential impact that PETA could have on industrial farming is largely lost because of their extremist views and tactics when it comes to hunting.

Industrial livestock farming does a great deal of harm to animals, and also to human health. They pack tens of thousands of animals (pigs, chickens, cows etc) into impossibly small condtions. They force feed these animals on feed that is not what they would normally eat, pump them full of hormones and antibiotics, and mutilate them to get them to grow as fast as possible so they can turn them around. They produce chickens and turkeys with big white meat breasts, but no taste. They make lots of milk but pass along antibiotics and hormones to humans. The antibiotics allow bacteria to grow resistant so that they become more dangerous and the normal human antibiotics become ineffective. The feed is made from all kinds of stuff the animals would normally never eat, like bones and brains of cows, leading to problems like mad cow disease. Cows are supposed to graze on grass in pastures.

Americans have become so used to eating artificially cheap food that all of these problems have become endemic. The problem is that instead of paying up front for good food, they pay after the fact in increased health problems, and tax dollars that go in insane farm subsidies to industrial farms. What proponents of those billions of dollars a year in subsidies don’t tell you is that the vast majority of those subsidies go to the huge factory farms not individual family farms. This money should be redirected toward a single payer universal health care. People need to stop supporting factory farms and buy there food from places like Sparrow Meats in Ann Arbor. All the meat Sparrow sells comes from local organic farmers. The beef is grass fed in a pasture, the chickens are free range and it all has vastly more flavor than anything with a Tyson or Purdue label. Whole Foods also sells a lot of produce and meat from local farmers.

Support your local farmers, buy good local grown and raised food. It is better for the farmers, better for the environment, and better for your health.

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12 thoughts on “PETA is ridiculous

  • trusty getto

    I like my PETA with some hummus, some lettuce, and the ground up seared carcass of an endangered species. The cuter, the better. ;^)

    Just kidding. I’m not that cruel. But I do agree that PETA is over the top. I don’t understand the overt self-righteousness of some people. Enough already!

  • Sarah

    I wonder in how generations will pass (or maybe its already happened) where Americans will forget completely what food is supposed to taste like. My husband, a European, constantly claims that the quality of American meat is “better”, but really, I think he means bigger, cheaper, fattier and able to last in the fridge for 6-10 years without rotting. When we visit my in-laws, I often experience a weird sensation of biting into something that tastes nothing like you’re expecting–Portuguese fruit looks just like American fruit but tastes worlds better.

    I lived in Japan on an island where chicken sashimi was a local delicacy. Raw chicken!! And I ate it. And I’m still here to talk about it. McNuggets straight out of the deep fryer aren’t that safe.

  • Sam Post author

    I agree completely. The stuff comes from most supermarkets and warehouse stores is just crap. We spend a little more to get meat and produce that is locally grown and ethically produced first and foremost because it tastes better. In Europe most people go shopping every couple of days and only buy enough stuff to last a couple of days. They do tend to gravitate toward the locally grown, and only partly for nationalistic reasons.

    When you have tomatos that have been picked when they are still green and then packed and shipped thousands of miles they often don’t have the flavor you expect. I grow a lot of my own stuff in the garden every year and I can tell the difference. When I dig up my potatos they taste so much better when they are cooked right away then they do even a few days later. Food is a living thing and is constantly changing. To expect otherwise is unrealistic. It is best to take advantage of it when it is ready naturally.

    One more point. I hear vegans talk about not eating anything that was alive. Well plants are just as much living things as any animal. Just watch how they grow, and adapt to their environment. Watch sunflowers turn toward the sun during the course of the day. Watch the leaves on tulip poplar turn upside down to collect the water when it rains. And look at the way that they reproduce. They may not be sentient (I could say the same thing about many politicians) but they are definitely alive.

  • brett

    Hello Sam,

    Let me clarify, upfront, that I’m a vegetarian, and have been such for the past 18 years, as has my wife. Let me also point out that, by most estimates, vegetarians compromise a pathetic 1% of the population of the United States.

    I make those points just to reinforce the fact that I’ve been forced to engage in these arguments many, many, many times, with family, friends, coworkers, and complete strangers. To be honest, I’ve grown quite tired with it, since it seems as if the conversation endlessly circles around the same few points, frequently involves personal attacks (I’m the minority, you know, so obviously my philosophy is wrong), and generally ends with neither side being convinced of anything.

    This all having been said, I still practice the diet, still hold my beliefs, and, on rare occasions like this, will sometimes still engage in discussion on the matter.

    The points that you make about factory farming are all completely correct, and I fully agree with them all the way up to (but not including) your conclusion, which is that we need to all buy free-range meat and then everything will be fine. The fact of the matter is that meat production, whether industrialized or agrarian in nature, is always going to be resource-intensive, and the simple equation of grain + vegetables + water = meat, will always be hundreds of times more wateful than having humans simply eat the grains and vegetables themselves, and eliminating the middle-cow.

    As for the plant argument in your last comment, you’re right when you say that plants aren’t sentient, which is the only qualification that I or any vegetarians/vegans I’ve ever known uses. We ourselves, it should be noted, are NOT plants, and thus recognize a greater sense of commonality with animals. There are, as you may know, such things as ‘Fruitarians”, who only consume items from plants which can be removed without killing the plant itself, so the basic idea isn’t without an example in the real world.

    Well, those were the main things I felt I should address. I’ll check back later, though, if you want me to respond to anything else.


  • Sam Post author

    First let me just say that your choice as a vegetarian is perfectly legitimate, and I respect that. It is not my intention to imply that free-range farming is a solution to the many environmental problems we face. Rather if you are going to eat meat, then choose wisely. I eat meat because I like meat. As with most people I am an omnivore and eat plenty of fruits and vegatables. I agree that even free-range farming is an inefficient process, but so is growing crops. We put more energy and resources into growing crops than we get out. To date no one has come up with a 100% efficient process for producing food of any kind. I admit that crops are probably more efficient than live stock.

    I guess my main point in all of this was to say that PETA’s tactics tend to draw attention to themselves more than to the real issues. As such they are counter productive. Whether you agree with PETA or not, I think issues that should be raised, tend to get ignored because PETA creates these comics or posters and people talk about that instead.

  • brett

    Well, I think we basically agree on the major points, but obviously disagree on some of the details and the underlying philosophy- 1 out of 3 isn’t bad. There is no 100% efficient method of growing crops, true, but the variance in efficiency between the two food items (meat vs. plant) is pretty drastic. The vast majority (around 80-95%) of grains in this country go to feed livestock, which end up producing a meat which has essentially wasted 90% of the protein required to create it. And, this is actually the more efficient “Industrial” farming method that you and I both deplore- If the livestock required for feeding the amount of meat consumed was all allowed to range free, the damage would be much worse. A massive amount of petroleum is also used, not just to get the food to your store, but to get the food to the animal who then has to be transported to a slaughterhouse, and THEN to your store.

    I think PETA has a niche for itself, which I have very mixed feelings about. As you said, they tend to attract attention to themselves more than their cause, but in some situations that’s the only way to get any attention at all. There are hundreds of great animal rights websites, humane societies, and vegetarian groups, but nobody ever visits them. On the other hand, all of those groups (and individuals, myself included) invariably get linked with PETA as a sort of cultural shorthand to describe the philosophy. It’s a vicious cycle in which they get the word out there, but then the response damages their (and our) credibility, but at the same time it does attract new members, who make contributions, who continue the funding for these promotions. I should reiterate that last point- these campaigns DO actually work on some level, or they would not continue to make them. If you are an avid hunter or meat lover, you should realize that they aren’t really targeting you, and you’re actually giving them free publiciity. Just like in politics, there are people on the extreme right and left, but things are really decided by the people in the middle ground, who might actually be swayed by some of these advertisements.

    Saying that something is OK ‘because you like it’ is fine, if the thing you like is, say, “the color blue,” “writing poems,” or “parting your hair on the left side”; these are all personal decisions which are non-consumptive, and don’t affect those around you, or the society at large. When we make decisions about what sort of car to drive, diet to eat, house to live in, etc, we are suddenly impacting the lives of many others, whether it’s observably evident or not.

    Finally, I should also add that I’d be very happy just to see Americans REDUCE the amount of meat they consume, which while not being perfect would still aleviate much of the environmental stress the industry causes. Americans, you might be surprised to know, didn’t always eat this much meat, and in fact it wasn’t until canning and refrigerated transport technology developed (late 19th century), that it became even remotely feasible for an average family to have access to so much chicken, beef, etc, and the ensuing corporations that formed marketed their own products to increase this trend (what kind of kids love armour hot dogs?). A few generations pass, though, and people begin to assume it’s always been this way, and so should continue on forever.